Session III of the NCAA Wrestling Championships could not have started better for Rutgers.
Nick Suriano continued his march through the 125 bracket as he scored his third win with bonus points, this time an 8-0 major of UVA’s Louie Hayes. With the win, Suriano moved into the semifinals tonight against top seed Darian Cruz from Lehigh. Cruz is the defending national champion.
With the move into the semis, Suriano made some RU Wrestling history.
Nick Suriano is now the fifth from Rutgers to ever appear in a national semifinal.— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) March 16, 2018
2016 & 2017: Anthony Ashnault (141 lbs)
1960: Mike Leta (130 lbs)
1955: George Mulligan (147 lbs)
1952: Emil Perona (157 lbs)#RUWR | #D1WRNotes pic.twitter.com/IAWJpTUfxS
After the quarters, Suriano spoke with the media:
While we wait for more action here at the Q, hear from All-American Nick Suriano, who spoke with the media after his quarterfinal win earlier today.#RUWR | #RelentlessPursuit pic.twitter.com/ea92FSICu6— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) March 16, 2018
Tonight’s semifinal between Suriano and Cruz will appear live on ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. ET. With a win, Suriano would become the program’s first-ever national finalist.
Scott DelVecchio, unseeded coming into the tournament and wrestling through the wrestlebacks, faced Buffalo’s Bryan Lantry in his first match of the consos. Working well on his feet - something that had hurt him recently - DelVecchio won by a fall (6:59), continuing his long journey through the wrestlebacks.
DelVecchio then faced Rico Montoya from Northern Colorado. Montoya had a 23-12 record coming into the tournament and received an at-large bid after placing sixth in the Big 12 Championships. But DelVecchio - the senior in a do-or-die situation - made quick work of Montoya scoring a first period pin (1:00) and moving on to tonight’s wrestlebacks. Tonight in Session IV he faces Drexel’s Austin DeSanto, the seven seed.
Eleazar DeLuca had a tough row to hoe (see below) and it wasn’t any easier facing two seed Brandon Sorenson from Iowa. Sorenson was upset in the second round by Lock Haven’s 15 seed Ronald Perry, 3-2 and no doubt wanted to prove something. The Hawkeye stepped on the gas from the start and won by major decision, 13-0, knocking DeLuca from the tournament.
John Van Brill was flexing his muscles coming out of the gate, winning his first two bouts and then facing seven seed Micah Jordan of Ohio State. He was one win away from All American status. JVB had lost to Jordan in the dual back in early January, 11-5. And their quarterfinal bout was a back and forth affair, Jordan taking the lead but Van Brill not backing down. Ultimately Jordan pulled away for the major decision, moving Van Brill into the wrestlebacks and still a win away from the podium. He was done for the session and will go up against the four seed, Josh Shields from Arizona State. Shields had to wresle an additional bout before facing JVB tonight, giving the Knight a little extra rest.
At 165, in his first wrestleback, Richie Lewis got off to a fast start with two takedowns in the first period against Keilan Torres of Northern Colorado for a 4-1 lead after three minutes. He kept up the pressure and with a flurry in the third period locked up the 12-5 win, still needing two more wins for the podium and AA status.
Branson Ashworth from Wyoming took on Lewis in the second wrestleback of Session III. Ashworth, a junior and the 14th seed, placed third at Big 12s. Lewis got the opening takedown and a quick escape in the second to go up 3-1 just 30 seconds into the middle period. He scored another takedown, gave up an escape, and the period ended with Lewis up 5-1. Ashworth got a takedown early in the third but Lewis reversed and restarted building riding time. Lewis’ quickness helped him evade and shoot, ending up with a 7-4 victory and advancing to tonight’s wrestlebacks where he’ll face Lock Haven’s Chance Marstellar. A win puts Lewis on the podium and an AA.
Nick Gravina faced off with Penn’s Joseph Heyob. Two points apiece in the second led to a 2-2 third period, with Gravina getting into bad position on top and after a scramble giving up a reversal. He gave an escape but got the takedown in the last ten seconds for the 6-5 win. Gravina took on Bryce Carr from Chattanooga. Carr topped Wisconsin’s Ricky Robertson 3-1 in SV-1 to get into the bout. Gravina beat Robertson 5-3 in their dual.
In the wrestleback, Gravina worked front headlocks but extended himself too far giving up the opening two points. Down 2-1, Gravina started the second on bottom. A deep shot by Carr gave him two with 50 seconds to go in the second. The period ended with the Knight down 4-2 and down on riding time. On top in the third, Nick third to work in legs but ended in a scramble, giving up the reversal and ultimately losing 7-3. Gravina finished the tournament 2-2.
That does it for Session III.— Rutgers Wrestling (@RUWrestling) March 16, 2018
Nick Suriano earns a spot in the semifinals while Scott DelVecchio, John Van Brill & Richie Lewis will appear in the Round of 12 tonight at the Q.#RUWR | #RelentlessPursuit pic.twitter.com/787BnA9YNV
After three sessions, with one wrestler in the semifinals and a slew of bonus points, Rutgers found itself in ninth place with 28.5 points, 5.5 ahead of Arizona State. Ohio State still leads the team scoring with 80.5 points with Penn State 13.5 points behind.
To show you the impact of winning, scoring bonus points, and moving ahead in the championship bracket, Nick Suriano has scored 13.5 of RU’s 28.5 points. He already has his “Sixth place” points plus the points for a fall, a tech fall, and a major decision.
Rutgers Nation taking over in Cleveland at the #NCAAWrestling National Championships. Scoring some great points early in the team standings rising to #4 just now. #RelentlessPursuit @RUWrestling pic.twitter.com/10ljxFrw4q— Joe Giaimo (@JoeGiaimoRU) March 15, 2018
Kudos to Brad
Bradly Derechailo (@Bradly_D) is the Rutgers communications person for wrestling and I’m going to give him a thumbs up for his work, especially at the Big Ten and now the NCAA Championships. His tweets keep me going when I don’t have access to the internet. Descriptions are great and the excitement comes through in his writing. Great job!
Wrestlebacks....brutal, just brutal
If you have a good seed and keep winning, it’s sort of easy to be on the podium. If you lose somewhere along the way, making it to the podium is a real challenge.
Take Richie Lewis. Seeded sixth, he won his first match and then lost. He went into the wrestlebacks. To take third, he needed to win the next six bouts, and go 7-1 in the tournament. By comparison, Nick Suriano could go 5-0 and be a national champion. Three less bouts but a higher spot on the podium.
Or Eleazar DeLuca. Being in a pigtail to start the tournament, he was already wrestling an extra bout. He would have needed to go 7-1 for that same third place spot, and with no room for error in this double elimination event.
It really does pay to win....early and often.